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Renewable Energy Update
June 23, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

Renewables don’t threaten U.S. grid reliability

Solar Industry Magazine - Jun 20 A new report by Analysis Group has answered questions posed two months ago by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry about the reliability and market rules of the U.S. electric power grid. The result? There is no evidence that a changing power mix – which includes the continuously growing renewables industry – poses any threat to the reliability of the nation’s power system. Further, the report finds that market forces, primarily, low-cost natural gas and flat demand for electricity, are causing some coal and nuclear power plants to retire, not state and federal policies supporting renewable energy development. 

Scientists sharply rebut influential renewable-energy plan

MIT Technology Review - Jun 19 On Monday, a team of prominent researchers sharply critiqued an influential paper arguing that wind, solar, and hydroelectric power could affordably meet most of the nation’s energy needs by 2055, saying it contained modeling errors and implausible assumptions that could distort public policy and spending decisions. The rebuttal appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same journal that ran the original 2015 paper. In the original paper, Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, and his coauthors heralded a “low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem.” It concluded that U.S. energy systems could convert almost entirely to wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources by, among other things, tightly integrating regional electricity grids and relying heavily on storage sources like hydrogen and underground thermal systems. Moreover, the paper argued, the system could be achieved without the use of natural gas, nuclear power, biofuels, and stationary batteries. But among other criticisms, the rebuttal released Monday argues that Jacobson and his coauthors dramatically miscalculated the amount of hydroelectric power available and seriously underestimated the cost of installing and integrating large-scale underground thermal energy storage systems.

LA ranks first among California counties for clean-energy jobs

San Jose Mercury News - Jun 20 An estimated 519,500 Californians are working in clean-energy industries, and Los Angeles County is leading the way, according to a report released Monday. The study from the nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) revealed that more than $45 billion in public and private investments have been injected into the state’s economy by California’s stringent climate policies, including cap-and-trade legislation, which reduces pollution while increasing clean energy and energy efficiency.

Trump’s ‘solar wall’ talk boosts green energy stocks

Fortune - Jun 22 Shares of solar companies soared on Thursday and their options drew a rush of bullish activity a day after U.S. President Donald Trump broached the subject of placing solar-power panels on his proposed wall along the Mexican border. First Solar's shares rose 3.2 percent to $38.42 and SunPower shares were up 13 percent to $8.69. Shares of the Guggenheim Solar fund rose 2.5 percent to $19.39. Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov cited Trump's comments about possibly putting solar panels on the wall during a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday as the reason behind the spike in the shares.

Small utilities score huge victory in California aggregate net metering case

PV Magazine - Jun 19 The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reached an aggregate net metering decision last week that could have long-lasting effects that ripple far beyond the Golden State’s borders. In the immediate term, CPUC Resolution E-4854 allows small investor-owned utilities the same rights it granted the “Big 3” (Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric) to allow customers with multiple meters to unify their readings for purposes of net metering payments. The CPUC decision also includes a finding with broader implications: The CPUC found that aggregate net metering arrangements do not increase costs for non-solar-using ratepayers.

California invested heavily in solar power. Now there's so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it

Los Angeles Times - Jun 22 California produced so much solar power on 14 days during March that it paid Arizona to take excess electricity its residents weren’t using to avoid overloading its own power lines. It happened on eight days in January and nine in February as well. All told, those transactions helped save Arizona electricity customers millions of dollars this year, though grid operators declined to say exactly how much. And California also has paid other states to take power. The number of days that California dumped its unused solar electricity would have been even higher if the state hadn’t ordered some solar plants to reduce production — even as natural gas power plants, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, continued generating electricity. Solar and wind power production was curtailed a relatively small amount — about 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017 — but that’s more than double the same period last year. 

America’s hungriest wind and solar power users: big companies

Reuters - Jun 21 Major U.S. corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores and General Motors Co have become some of America’s biggest buyers of renewable energy, driving growth in an industry seen as key to helping the U.S. cut carbon emissions. Last year nearly 40 percent of U.S. wind contracts were signed by corporate power users, along with university and military customers. That's up from just 5 percent in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association trade group. These users also accounted for an unprecedented 10 percent of the market for large-scale solar projects in 2016, figures from research firm GTM Research show. Just two years earlier there were none. The big reason: decreasing costs for solar and wind energy. 

Monterey Regional Airport poised to go solar

Monterey County Weekly - Jun 22 Monterey Regional Airport officials have been talking about going solar for nearly five years, and, on May 28, the California Energy Commission approved a $3 million loan to the airport district to build the project. That leaves them with two months to finish the 3-acre project before August 1, when Pacific Gas & Electric plans to implement a new formula for billing customers who also generate solar power. The new solar panels, which are expected to generate nearly 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, will more than cover the airport’s electric bill.

Sunworks to build 1.1MW solar system for California ag company

Solar Industry Magazine - Jun 19 Sunworks Inc., a provider of solar solutions for agriculture, commercial, industrial, and residential markets, has announced a new 1.1-megawatt DC solar project to be constructed at CSP Labs in Pleasant Grove. The system is expected to offset more than 90 percent of the lab’s annual electricity needs.

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Barry H. Epstein Barry H. Epstein
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